On May 26, 2012, at the St. Thomas More Academy (STMA) Commencement ceremonies at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge established the Francis P. Burbidge Sr. Leadership Award, in honor of his father.
“I often tell our graduates that one of the most effective ways for them to honor their parents, teachers and school is to remember the lessons of faith and morals and values they taught them and to bring them forth into action,” the Bishop said. “I have been blessed with wonderful parents who nurtured me in faith.
“My father graduated from a small Catholic High School in Philadelphia called St. Thomas More,” the Bishop told the graduates. “He often spoke about how the priests and faculty who taught at the school greatly inspired him. He loved the school; developed a devotion to St. Thomas More and forever stressed the importance of Catholic Education. My father also loved young people. One of his 'hobbies' in retirement was to go to the local high school each day with his lounge chair and watch the practices and activities being conducted. Many of the student athletes and leaders embraced him and benefitted from his presence and example.
“I decided to introduce the Francis P. Burbidge Sr. Award at St. Thomas More Academy because of my father’s love for his alma mater named after this particular saint and in recognition of my father’s great love for Catholic Education and our young people. He would be so proud of the youth of this Diocese!”
“The Francis P. Burbidge Leadership Award, voted on by the faculty of the Academy, recognizes the student who has displayed exemplary leadership among his or her peers in the St. Thomas More community,” said Headmaster Deacon Bradley Watkins. “This is the student who has taken seriously the Academy’s mission to form Christian leaders; thus, the Academy prizes leadership related to the traditional acts of mercy. Has this young man or woman led in tending those whom, as baptized Christians, it is our job to tend? Has the student led in the school’s particular four areas of formation, the human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation of self and other? Has the student been Christ to his or her neighbor concretely in the world? Because this award acknowledges leadership in a classical college preparatory school, presence in the classroom and aggressiveness in studies are also dearly prized. Has this student revealed broken new ground and created new value?”
The monetary gift and plaque were awarded to 2012 STMA summa cum laude graduate Timothy Patrick Moran. “Tim has excelled in all his activities,” said Deacon Watkins. “A scholar of the top grade, he has merited St. Thomas More’s premier academic honor, the Excellence in the Trivium Award. He’s been a leader on the Basketball and Ultimate Frisbee teams and has directed student council admirably during a year of great transition and growth. He’s not hidden from his responsibilities to bring healing into a hurting world. He evinces a Franciscan spirit in his many efforts to care for those in need, both here in North Carolina and in his mission work in Honduras, and he will carry this spirit forward into the unique mission field of the modern university when he begins his studies at UNC-Chapel Hill in the fall.”
The award was also presented at this ceremony to STMA 2011 graduate Austin James Faur, the newest seminarian for the Diocese.